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14 December 2003

Gene Cernan in Moscow

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Captain Eugene Cernan returned to Moscow on December 14, 2003. Exactly 31 years after being the last man to walk on the moon.

Captain Cernan had not been to Moscow since 1990 and was very impressed at the progress that has occured in the interim. At a packed press conference on December 16 he confirmed that "as much as has changed in Moscow during recent years one thing that has not changed is the warmth and hospitaility of the Russians themselves".



An active Russian Cosmonaut and current Deputy Head of the Yury Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, Colonel Valery Korzun joined Captain Cernan at the press conference. As chance would have it both flew in the previous day from Houston, albeit not with the same planes.



There have been skeptics in Russia through the years as to whether a man has ever indeed been on the moon. When asked this question Captain Cernan won over all doubters by suggesting that the best way to know for the next person going to the moon to visit the site of Apollo 17's abandoned lunar rover. Just next to the front tire will be found the initials of Captain Cernan's then 9 year old daughter. With no atmosphere on the moon footprints, tireprints and even initials in the lunar dust remain as they are forever.



The highlight of the press conference was when Captain Certain showed the Omega Speedmaster Professional he wore on the moon. The watch is still working, the best possible testament to the durability of an Omega.



On a personal note, Captain Cernan perhaps shared his best moment in Moscow when he had the opportunity to speak by phone with a Russian colleague of years past, Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to fly in space.

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